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Grant bolsters Clinical Data Research Network

Aug. 13, 2015, 10:30 AM

The Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network, led by Vanderbilt University’s Russell Rothman, M.D., MPP, has been approved for a three-year, $8.5 million funding award from the independent Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to expand its efforts to improve healthcare throughout the Southeast.

Russell Rothman, M.D., MPP

The Mid-South CDRN is one of 11 clinical data research networks in the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) that were approved last month for a second round of funding by PCORI’s Board of Governors.

By harnessing electronic health records, information technology and a robust support infrastructure, the networks can conduct pragmatic clinical studies and comparative effectiveness research involving millions of patients, said Rothman, principal investigator of the Mid-South CDRN and assistant vice chancellor for Population Health Research at Vanderbilt.

The studies will “help us improve how we deliver health care in this country … and allow us to rapidly and efficiently answer a lot of big questions that address patients’ real needs,” he said.

Rothman, who also is professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Health Policy and directs the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services Research, said the Mid-South CDRN will focus on improving treatments and outcomes for health conditions ranging from heart disease, diabetes and cancer to sickle cell anemia, sleep apnea, autism and arthritis.

It also is participating in national studies addressing the optimal dose of aspirin in patients with coronary heart disease, and optimal surgical approaches for obesity. The goal is to rapidly translate research findings into clinical practice.

“This outstanding and nationally recognized project provides a foundation for and establishes collaborative partnerships between the discovery and care delivery enterprises to accelerate our delivery system into a learning organization with the promise of improving the quality of care and better health outcomes for the people we serve,” said Robert Dittus, M.D., MPH, associate vice chancellor for Public Health and Health Care and director of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health.

Established in early 2014 with a $6.9 million PCORI award, the Mid-South CDRN initially brought together the Vanderbilt Health System, the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network and Greenway Health, a national EHR company.

Through the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, the Mid-South CDRN partners with Meharry Medical College, Nashville General Hospital and the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center.

The second phase of funding will allow the network to partner with the Carolinas Collaborative, which includes Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Medical University of South Carolina, and Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC).

This diverse array of academic and community hospitals, primary care and specialty practices and community health centers in rural and urban areas now encompasses more than 9 million patients in the Southeast plus 14 million patients nationally through Greenway Health.

Rothman’s co-principal investigators on this second phase of funding are Paul Harris, Ph.D., and Trent Rosenbloom, M.D., MPH, Vanderbilt Department of Biomedical Informatics; Timothy Carey, M.D., MPH, UNC Chapel Hill; and HSSC president and CEO Helga Rippen, M.D., Ph.D., MPH.

PCORI was authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research aimed at generating evidence that will help patients and those who care for them make better informed healthcare decisions. The new award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and negotiation of a formal award contract.

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